Significant number of Ryanair pilots reject bonus offer - source

DUBLIN (Reuters) - A significant number of Ryanair RYA.I pilots have rejected a request to work additional days to alleviate a pilot shortage that has caused the cancellation of over 2,000 flights in the coming weeks, a source close to the pilots said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO - People board a Ryanair flight at Stansted Airport, northeast of London, Britain, September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

Ryanair on Monday offered pilots who agree to work an additional 10 days a bonus of up to 12,000 euros (10,587.14 pounds)on condition that they remain at the airline for another 12 months, saying this would allow the company to avoid additional cancellations.

The Irish airline, Europe’s largest by passenger numbers, has been widely criticised by politicians and consumer groups since announcing on Friday plans to cancel between 40 and 50 flights per day in the weeks to Oct. 31.

Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said the cancellations were caused by a transition to a new system of allocating leave to pilots, but he denied suggestions from a pilot group that it has a deeper problem in hiring and retaining pilots.

The Employee Representative Committees in 17 of Ryanair’s 85 bases, including eight in Germany, have rejected the offer of a bonus for working extra days in a joint letter to management, the source said.

Instead the pilots made a series of demands including the implementation of permanent local contracts under local employment law, according to the letter, seen by Reuters.

“The majority of our colleagues rejected your latest memo,” the letter said.

Ryanair contracts are currently written up under Irish employment law and a significant number of pilots are employed on contracts via third-party agencies.

The letter also demanded that regional teams be set up to represent the pilots and be recognised as a negotiating partner by Ryanair management, which does not currently recognise unions.

Such moves “should help stop the large number of colleagues who are leaving for ‘greener pastures’” the letter said.

A Ryanair spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on the letter.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Jonathan Oatis